Friday, December 31, 2010

Signs of Progress

The end of a year just isn't the same without a little reflection on the year's accomplishments. For 2010, MoDOT had some big ones. Customer satisfaction and trust are high, billions of pounds of waste have been recycled, kcICON opened early and was selected as a top road project, and the number of fatalities on Missouri roads continue to decline. Watch below to learn about 2010's top ten signs of progress for Missouri transportation.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Drive Clear in the New Year

Drive Clear in the New Year!

Over the past five years, 1,394 Missourians have been killed in impaired driving crashes. The choice is yours. Be responsible and make one of your New Year's resolutions be to Drive Clear in the New Year.

Take the Drive Clear in the New Year quiz to learn more about the devastating effects of impaired driving and you will be automatically entered to win one of four $20 gas cards from MFA Oil/Break Time. The contest runs from January 3-7, 2011. Winners will be randomly drawn and announced by 5 p.m. January 7.








Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Your Input, Please

If you could guide the future of rail in Missouri, where would it lead?  A new online survey gives you the chance to tell us.

Visit MoDOT's homepage at www.modot.org or click directly to the survey here to give your input.

Results, along with other information collected through public involvement activities, will be used to help MoDOT create a statewide rail plan that will focus on three areas: Freight rail development, passenger rail and highway/rail crossing safety.

So speak up! Make tracks to the survey today and share it with someone you know who wants a voice in the future of rail in Missouri.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Enforcement on the Island

Officer Scott Roach with Meghan Carter, the affiliate executive director for MADD St. Louis.

Officer Scott Roach with the St. Louis County Police Department has a passion for keeping people alive. Sometimes his passion leads him to an uninhabited island, or more precisely a median island at an intersection near Melville High School.

Officer Roach knows that keeping your hands on the wheel and off of your cell phone can prevent a crash, and wearing your seat belt can save your life if you are in one. The state of Missouri has made it illegal to text and drive if you are 21 or under; and St. Louis County has passed an ordinance saying you can be pulled over and ticketed if you are not wearing your seat belt – at any age.

He says these laws are sometimes difficult to enforce from the comfort of his patrol car simply because you can’t really see what is going on inside the vehicle of a passing motorist. He says people have taken to holding their cell phones down low so you can’t see what they are doing which makes texting and driving even more dangerous.

With all this in mind, on a recent week day, Officer Roach got out of his patrol car, and took an unassuming position on the island at the intersection of Lemay Ferry Road at Buckley Road in jeans and a hoodie.  He had previously set  up his plan with five officers in squad cars who were on the side of the road just ahead of him.

 “Two thumbs on a keyboard is a dead giveaway,” said Roach. But even then it’s difficult to prove someone was texting. They can always use the excuse of checking voicemail or flipping through their contact list. “One young lady said she was texting her mom to tell her she would be calling her later,” he said. “That is not worth causing an accident.”

From his spot on the island, he radioed ahead to the squad cars a visual description of the vehicles in which the drivers was breaking the law. In two hours, the officers had together written tickets for 35 seat belt violations and three texting while driving tickets.

“I decided it was time to do something different when I realized my own daughter is just 9 years away from driving,” says Roach. “ I won’t be able to stand on that island very many times before people catch on to me. But then we’ll come up with something new.”

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Huge Heart

For a heartwarming boost to your holiday weekend, watch below to learn how a little girl has made a big difference in her community. Madalyn Hubbs is the daughter of MoDOT employee Melissa Hubbs in St. Louis, and it's wonderful to see how she is bringing smiles to those at Shriner's Hospital!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Winter Wonderland

It seems a white Christmas is on the way for Missouri!

While my children are thrilled, I have to admit I'd prefer clear, dry weather for our family and the many families traveling this weekend. I'm glad to know MoDOT has been monitoring weather conditions all week and is ready for action even before the wintry mixes begin.

What's it like at MoDOT when that winter wonderland becomes a reality? Check out our post from last week - many employees will be working over the holiday to make sure the roads are treated and plowed, and we hope you'll let us know how we're doing.

In the meantime, it seems Santa has been cleared by the FAA for travel, and the reindeer of course have their secret weapon with Rudolph. The winter wonderland outside shouldn't keep Santa from getting around safely, and MoDOT will be out there doing everything possible to make sure your family has safe travels as well.

Learn more about the safest way to drive in winter weather at http://www.modot.org/newsandinfo/District0News.shtml?action=displaySSI&newsId=63601.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Little Holiday Cheer Goes a Long Way on our Roads

Headed to Grandma’s house this Christmas? Enjoy the holiday, but remember to plan ahead to make sure you arrive alive.

Although the holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends, it can also be a very dangerous time on Missouri roads. In 2009, from Christmas Eve through New Year’s weekend, 24 fatalities occurred in traffic crashes on Missouri roads and 122 serious injuries.

Make a new year's resolution to always wear your seat belt and never drive impaired. Seat belts are proven life savers, saving more than 13,000 lives each year. During a crash, being buckled up keeps you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas being thrown out of a vehicle is almost always deadly.

Finally, Christmas is one of the busiest travel days of the year, and this year it looks like it’s shaping up to be a very white Christmas in most of Missouri. Allow extra time for your trip and consult MoDOT's Traveler Information Map at www.modot.org to get the latest road conditions.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is Your Car Ready?

It seems like everyone is busy getting ready for the holidays this week, but is your car ready? Today is the first day of winter and we could be looking at a white Christmas in only a few days. Watch below to pick up some important tips to make sure you get to all of your holiday celebrations safely.
Some highlights include:
  • Check your tire pressure and tread condition
  • Make sure your antifreeze is at proper levels
  • Inspect the oil level and windshield wiper fluid
  • Pack a small emergency kit in case of the unexpected


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Behind the Scenes of MoDOT's Winter Operations

Sometimes it's the little things that count the most. While most people envision big trucks plowing snow when it comes to our winter operations, there is an awful lot that goes on behind the scenes to help you get where you're going safely when the weather turns bad.


MoDOT becomes a beehive of activity at the mere hint of snow and ice. On a local level, staff members take a look at the tools they have - weather forecasts, pavement sensors, information from other states, etc. - and put their heads together to determine the best course of action to take. Like the snowflakes falling to the ground, no two storms are alike and neither is the plan of attack.


As each area carries out its action plan for the situation at hand, the information is shared with staff statewide. We use the word "snowcall" to describe the telephone conference calls that take place to make sure we're operating efficiently and effectively on a statewide level. The calls are used to determine what areas may need additional resources, such as people or equipment, and who has staff and trucks to spare. Sometimes, it's the mention that one area is noticing a shift in the storm that puts another region on alert. Other times, it's a heads up that certain chemicals and treatments are working better than others under the particular conditions. Or perhaps its a notice that highways in neighboring states are closed and will affect Missouri travelers. A wrap-up snowcall typically takes place following each winter weather event to determine what went right and what we can do to get better.


While all this is going on behind the scenes, our customer service representatives are busy 24/7 taking calls, providing road condition information and dispatching crews to trouble spots. Other employees are busy inputting data to keep the Traveler Information Map current for motorists. Still others are feeding information to the media and public via Twitter and Facebook.


It's all hands on deck at MoDOT when it comes to keeping roads clear and safe for travel. While we can't fool Mother Nature, we do try to manage what she sends our way!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Missouri Miles

In this month's Missouri Miles, we show you how MoDOT crews work around the clock to make sure your roads are safer. Plus, a major Missouri road project wins a very prestigious award! We also give you tips on how to keep your car running smoothly in the winter and ask some of the best truck drivers in the state why it is important to Buckle Up.





Thursday, December 9, 2010

Missouri Remembers Impaired Driving Victims


In a tribute to lives impacted by impaired driving crashes, nearly 100 people joined together at the Missouri State Capitol yesterday in remembrance and resolve to prevent these needless tragedies.

While fatalities in Missouri have decreased by 31 percent since 2005, impaired driving fatalities have remained steady, contributing to more than 30 percent of all fatalities. Over the past five years, 1,394 Missourians have been killed in impaired driving crashes.

A Christmas tree was lit in honor of the 281 lives lost last year as a result of impaired driving. Attendees were encouraged to take ornaments to help remember their loved ones.

During the ceremony, the Highway Patrol showed a new video called "Instant of Choice" that tells the story of two lives forever changed by an impaired driving crash. The video can be viewed in the Highway Patrol museum. A new website was also announced where you can leave tributes to friends and loved ones victimized by impaired driving.
Together, we remember. Together, we can make a difference by exercising personal responsibility and making the right choice - to drive sober.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Traveler Information Map down for maintenance this Friday

Heads up! If you’re a regular visitor to our Traveler Information Map (and you should be) the uber popular online app will be down for maintenance this coming Friday, Dec. 10 from noon to 6 p.m.


MoDOT is upgrading the database that runs the map so you’ll have to turn to other sources, such as our toll-free number, for road information during those brief six hours. MoDOT is keeping an eye on the weather. If things look snowy, we’ll postpone the work for a later date.


The upgrade is routine and will not change the operation or appearance of the map.


We’re still open for business! Need to know about a route, work zone or incident Friday afternoon? Call our customer service line at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT. (That’s 1-888-275-6636, by the way).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cleaning Up

Gov. Jay Nixon presents MoDOT employee Curtis Dowden with  the 2010 Recycling Award.
I guess the older I get, the easier it is to understand why conserving, recycling, and reusing is important to preserving our planet. Now I’m far from being a recycling super hero, but I do try and think green every day. I’m happy to say that my recycling bin is pretty full when disposal services show up at my house every week and nothing gets thrown away from my office that shouldn’t be. Now, there are green efforts… and then there are GREEN efforts.

The Missouri State Recycling Program recently announced this year’s winners for top agency and individual for recycling and waste reduction… and MoDOT swept the awards, again!

Curtis Dowden, a MoDOT senior materials inspector, won the individual award for his recycling efforts. Dowden started a plastics recycling program in Willow Springs and collects about 70 pounds of it every week. Dowden recycles the plastic, which decreases trash hauling costs and waste that would end up in an area landfill. The New Franklin Parkway project helped MoDOT secure the team award. This green effort included removing a bridge crossing the Katy Trail, recycling the demolition debris, and keeping thousands of tons of potential waste from heading to an area landfill.

Every little bit helps, from my weekly 15 or so pounds of recyclable waste to the 70 pounds of plastic Curtis Dowden is committed to collecting. The 10,000 pounds of waste averted from a New Franklin area landfill to the more than 8 billion pounds of waste MoDOT has recycled since 2005. Being green is a goal MoDOT strives to achieve and these statewide recycling awards show the commitment.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Everyone Loves This Bridge!

Last week, beams were set on a bridge on Route U in Pettis County, near Sedalia. No big deal, really, since this scene has been repeated hundreds of times as MoDOT has completed 314 new bridges since the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program got rolling in April 2009.

But this one was a little different, since one of the beams was displayed at the State Fair in Sedalia in August. Visitors to MoDOT's Highway Gardens were encouraged to sign the beam to demonstrate their support for new bridges in Missouri. And sign it they did ... by the thousands. One lady who lived nearby the bridge site signed it on the bottom "so that I can see it when I float underneath it next summer."

Now the beam is at its final resting place in a multi-span bridge over Spring Fork Creek. The latest signature added to the structure, as you'll see in the picture, is from one of the construction workers at the site. He and others like him will be plenty busy in 2011, when MoDOT and its design-build contractor KTU Constructors plan to build more than 300 new bridges across the state.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Help is on the way


“You’re my savior!”
“Now I won’t be late for work.”
“Thank you for getting me off this busy highway.”

Those are just a few of the things I heard drivers say recently to St. Louis motor assist operators. I had the great pleasure of riding along with a few of these MoDOT team members to see why it’s important to keep highway traffic moving, and experienced a lesson in humanity as well.

The main goal of MoDOT's motorist assist program is to keep traffic moving on the busy highways in the St. Louis and Kansas City area. For every minute a lane is closed… 20 minutes of backup is the result. This is not only problematic for traffic flow, but dangerous too. Cars and trucks go zipping by at speeds exceeding 70 MPH and many of these stranded motorists feel confused as to what to do next. Many people don’t know why their car stalled, how to change a tire, or have anyone to call if they run out of gas. It was quite amazing to see relief and joy appear on dozens of faces once they realized help had arrived and their stopped vehicle was able to get going again. It was nice to see people get the help they desperately needed, but I also noticed that by assisting these motorists it allowed for everyone else to continue safely down the highway.

I was glad to see just how dedicated MoDOT motorist assist operators are when it came to helping drivers and keeping traffic running smoothly. I was a part of more than 25 assists and the MoDOT operators I took a ride with were able to get every one of these stranded drivers off the shoulder and back on the highway. Many Missourians don’t realize this service exists and are even more surprised when they’re told the help is free.

Let’s hope none of you have to deal with car troubles that force you off the road, but feel solace in the fact that help from MoDOT and motorist assist operators is on the way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We Need Your Ideas to Click

We need your help. Seat belt use in Missouri has remained relatively stagnant for the past six years, with seat belt use fluctuating only slightly between 75 percent and 77 percent since 2004. The national average is 85 percent. It is even more concerning when we look at specific groups of people in our state like truck drivers who are at 64 percent, or teen drivers who are at 66 percent.

Engineering, enforcement, education and emergency services are effective and necessary, but are no longer moving the numbers in the direction they need to be headed. We need some new and innovative ways to get Missourians to buckle up.

If you have a crazy, wild, might-just-work idea for increasing seat belt use, we want to hear it! Tweet @saveMOlives, post it to our Facebook or send an e-mail to savemolives@modot.mo.gov.

You are 42 times more likely to die in a crash if you are not wearing your seat belt. In 2009, 880 people were killed in traffic crashes. Of those killed, 67.2 percent were not wearing a seat belt. For more information, videos and statistics on the benefits of seat belts visit www.savemolives.com.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Celebrate - Then Get Back to Work!

It's always fun to share success with friends.

MoDOT Motor Carrier Services got to do that at a recent ceremony, when our division and the MoDOT Springfield Area District received Governor's Awards for Quality and Productivity.

Motor Carrier Services earned honors in customer services. Our group handles the licensing of Missouri-based motor carriers. We also collect fees, taxes and enforce safety laws. Here's the big news: the people we license, tax and hold to the law are happy to work with us! In fact, 95.7 percent of them report they are satisfied - or very satisfied - with our service. A government agency. Wow.

We, in turn, are awed by our co-workers in southwest Missouri. The Springfield Area District earned the first-ever GAQP Pinnacle Award for constructing the first Diverging Diamond Interchange in the Western Hemisphere. The radical, lower-cost design dramatically improved safety and traffic flow in a heavily-congested area. They even completed the entire project in just six months. People found it easy to keep tabs on the project and quickly learned to use the "wrong" side of the road to get through the area quickly and safely. (I used to live nearby and am floored every time I drive through the area!)

It's very telling that even at the celebration, the two groups talked shop, discussing what new improvements could be made to the driving and freight-moving experience. It made me proud to be MoDOT.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Be Thankful for Safe Travel

Like many other Missourians, my family and I will be traveling Wednesday to visit our family for Thanksgiving. Also like your family, we have traditions that must be upheld – the bountiful food of course (and not a chicken casserole like my mom tried to pass off as the Thanksgiving meal one year), and sharing what we are thankful for before the big meal this Thursday. Although there are many things I can list, I am most thankful that we will all be together. And while that may seem obvious, for 280 Missouri families it is not the case – their family members died last year as a result of impaired driving crashes.

Impaired driving continues to be a grave problem in Missouri and around the country leaving a human toll of lost lives, grief-stricken family and friends, injuries and disabilities that never go away. Over the last five years in Missouri, 1,348 people have been killed in impaired driving crashes and thousands more injured.

And the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be an especially dangerous time of year on the roads. Between the two holidays in 2009, 88 people died in traffic crashes in Missouri (21 were alcohol-related) and 4,650 were injured (with 343 related to alcohol).

Some contend that those drinking and driving are simply hurting and killing themselves, but a substantial number of people killed or injured in these crashes are innocent victims. In fact, 31 percent of the fatalities and 40 percent of the injuries occurred to some other party involved in the crash – not the drinking driver or pedestrian.

So what can we do? Each of us can take the responsibility to drive sober, call a cab or designate a driver while celebrating this holiday season and urge all our friends and family to do the same. If you’ve had a personal experience with an impaired driving crash, you can share it with others on a special remembrance page at facebook.com/humantoll in hopes that more education will help others to not drive impaired and other families will be spared such tragedies.

When you get to your Thanksgiving meal this year, be thankful you got there safely and let’s all work together to Arrive Alive.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful

Just last night we were having dinner out and a group of guys ranging in age from 25-50 were at the table next to us. They were having a few beers and getting a little loud with their conversation. My ears pricked up, though I was trying hard not to listen.
The talk at their table was about law enforcement of all kinds, and the unfair treatment of cops to guys like them. Although I can’t quote them directly from my middle-age memory, I can give you the highlights:
I was only going 10 mph over the limit, and they had the nerve to stop me!
That blankety blank cop asked how much I’d had to drink!!
I think they are just out to raise some money by giving tickets!
Now, I can’t say that I’ve never in my life done anything wrong. But when it comes to the men and women who work in law enforcement, I know three things: I know that they are doing their job, I know I don’t want to do their job and I know they are trying to protect us from ourselves and the other crazy people out there who think the cops are just out to get them. For that, I am thankful!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Missouri Miles

For this month's Missouri Miles, listen to MoDOT's new director Kevin Keith, appointed this month. You'll also learn about a MoDOT employee who walked more than 90 miles to pay tribute to his fallen co-workers and to raise money for a Fallen Workers' Memorial. Get the latest update on MoDOT's five-year direction and how we have worked to cut costs. Finally, don't miss the view of the windfarms. All that and more on this month's edition!

Part 1:


Part 2:

Who I Want to Be

I try my best not to be a helicopter mom. I try to let my kids, you know, make their own mistakes (on selected things).
But lately, my friends are probably starting to hear the sound of chopper blades when I’m around. Okay, I may preach a little about the benefits of seat belts and always ask if everyone in my car is buckled. Not to mention telling them they absolutely cannot text and drive.
I’ve begun to notice when my friends call me from their cell now, they quickly tell me they aren’t driving or that they didn’t text me earlier because they WERE driving.
So I think I’m developing a rep as the ENFORCER among my friends, family and neighbors.
Is it who I want to be? Well…. I’m a grownup now and I guess if it keeps any one of them, or anyone else from hearing the sounds of chopper blades from the Lifeflight helicopter after a car crash then it’s a badge I’m willing to wear, with honor.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Golden Hour

 D5084CM-129 a
The Eads Bridge photo above has been chosen for the cover shot and January photo for the 2011 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials calendar. It was taken by Cathy Morrison with MoDOT.
The photo shows the golden hour of Eads Bridge, a combined road and railway bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis, connecting St. Louis and East St. Louis, Illinois. Today the road deck has been restored, allowing vehicle and pedestrian traffic to cross the river. The rail deck has been in use for the St. Louis MetroLink light rail line since 1993.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Human Toll


toll: verb -- To ring slowly, with regularly repeated strokes, esp. for announcing a death
The human toll of impaired driving is devastating.
In 2009, 280 people were killed, 1,140 seriously injured in crashes involving a drunk driver. In Missouri, someone is killed or injured in an impaired driving crash every 1.9 hours.
Those that are killed leave a void that no one can fill. They leave behind family, friends and loved ones who are haunted by their loss.
But, not everyone is killed in a drinking-involved crash. Some are injured and their physical wounds heal with time, some suffer permanent and disabling injuries. Some victims have difficulty overcoming the emotional and psychological impact of the crash. All are changed forever.
Visit our wall on Facebook at www.facebook,com/humantoll. We want to remember those who have been injured or killed in impaired driving crashes and to remind others of the importance of driving sober not only this holiday season but always.
We invite you to share your story of how impaired driving has affected your life, or the life of someone you love.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Wheelies Are Optional

It isn’t every day that your job requires you to wear a bike helmet, but on Nov. 8, staff from MoDOT’s Kansas City office wore their helmets with pride as they rode through town on two wheels as part of a workshop for transportation planners and engineers on “Understanding a Cyclists Perspective.”

Hosted by the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, the six-hour seminar introduced staff to the physical, mental and agility challenges of actually maneuvering a bicycle through active traffic. The agenda included classroom and hands-on sessions and covered:

·         Benefits of cycling
·         Principles of traffic law
·         Lane choice and position
·         Bicycle crashes
·         Sharing the road
·         Bike handling skills and urban practice ride

The concept of the workshop was developed as part MoBikeFed’s effort to form a new KC regional bike and pedestrian advocacy organization.

“This organization will partially focus its time and resources on bicycling and pedestrian education. A hallmark of this education will be to offer it to transportation staff and elected officials throughout the Kansas City region,” Said Eric Bunch, program coordinator for the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation.  “Before we take the program to a bigger audience we needed to get feedback from the experts. MoDOT District 4 has been a great supporter of bicycling in the Kansas City area, but as advocates, we realized that we could help MoDOT staff gain a better perspective of how our built environment works for cyclists.”  

This was the inaugural run for “Understanding a Cyclist's Perspective” but the workshop borrows elements from a program offered to the public called Traffic Skills 101. MoBikeFed hopes in the future to offer this workshop as a continuing education credit option for planners and engineers.

While most of the class was held in classroom session, the team did enjoy an hour-long bike ride through Lee’s Summit, Mo.’s urban streets.

I have always considered myself to be an experienced cyclist.  I have ridden my bike in urban, suburban and rural settings on roads, trails and even sidewalks,” said MoDOT Construction and Materials Engineer Perry Allen. “The training provided me what I need to know to ride safely and legally, especially in an urban and suburban setting. I found the class to be very informative and beneficial increasing both my interest, as well as my confidence as a cyclist.” 

The workshop is open to other groups and organizations. Contact Eric at 573.701.2492 or Eric.Bunch@mobikefed.org for details. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Talk to Us!

MoDOT wants to be accessible to the citizens we serve. We want your input, we want your opinion, we want you to talk to us.

To make this happen, we try to remove as many communication barriers as possible. We want it to be easy for you to reach the right person in the department.

That’s why you can go to our main website and send us a comment from any page. At the bottom of every web page of www.modot.org you’ll see a little word balloon that says “Give Us Your Feedback on this Page.” Originally we had launched the feature so folks could comment on specific topics or web pages. We quickly learned it served a broader purpose.

People started clicking on the link to ask questions about projects, road conditions, public meetings and anything else that was on their mind.
As the person who oversees the website, I saw that as a huge success! Web visitors didn’t have to navigate to a comment form or hunt down a phone number. Now they were talking to us whenever they felt like it. My comments from the site tripled in a matter of weeks. While we didn’t actually receive a lot of comments about the site, we did get to hear from citizens on about every other topic.

We still have more detailed comment forms on the site, and we still want you to call 1-888 Ask MoDOT whenever you feel like it. But if you’re surfing our site, and something crosses your mind, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the word balloon. We’ll make sure your comment makes it to the right person.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wish List

Every motorist has an opinion of other drivers' behavior. My pet peeve? Tailgaters. Grrrrr

My husband is willing to give those who irritate him the benefit of the doubt. When someone blazes past him, obviously flaunting the speed limit, he remarks that the driver must have a digestive issue and has urgent needs to attend to.

What about the folks who spend their workday on the road? What behavior would professional drivers most like other highway users to change?

MoDOT posed that question to participants in the Missouri Truck Driving Championships. The answers are posted in a "Trucker on the Street" segment on MoDOT's YouTube site.

I bet you can guess what they say before you watch the video:
  • Pay attention to your surroundings
  • Buckle up
  • Be courteous. Show respect.
  • Give everyone enough space.
  • Use turn signals.
It seems to me that full-time drivers have the same concerns as most part-time highway users.

Stay tuned. More Trucker on the Street videos are coming soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Win a vacation on the Missouri River Runner


Welcome to the ultimate Missouri vacation experience giveaway. Thanks to Amtrak, 94.3 KAT Country and Missouri River Runner (MoDOT) you can have it all!

Who couldn’t use a Missouri vacation? I know… I know some of you are thinking that you sometimes need a vacation after your vacation, but what if you didn’t have to always drive to your vacation destination? What if you could log on and surf the web while glimpsing at scenic Missouri River views when traveling? What if the kids could grab a snack all while making a childhood memory of the family trip experience on a train?

KAT Country’s “KATcations Contest” is giving away a trip for four!…Read contest details here.

Need some vacation ideas?
In Independence visit the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum; get exercise and maybe lost in a corn maze in Warrensburg. We all know that there will always be a welcoming winery in Herman. In Sedalia, stay at the Hotel Bothwell and immerse the family into the 1920’s. Do some shopping in Kirkwood; experience the City Museum and a Rams Game in St. Louis. Take in a dinner at the Westport District in Kansas City; not to mention, a spa weekend getaway and afternoon at the Missouri State Museum in Jefferson City. Visit an old Indian trading post at Fort Charrette Historic Village in Washington, MO; and maybe you can catch a circus puppet show in Lee’s Summit.
Go see Missouri on the Missouri River Runner!

So sign up, relax and enjoy the ride…and please tell us all about your train experiences!

Notice our new Missouri River Runner train schedule effective November 8, 2010

Sign-up here to enter contest!
Visit Amtrak!
Visit MoRail!
Follow us on Twitter!
Be our friend at Facebook!
Visit Missouri tourism!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MoDOT Veteran Named New Director


A familiar face for those acquainted with MoDOT is taking over as director of MoDOT. The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission today tapped Kevin Keith to lead the department. Kevin had been serving as MoDOT's interim director since April. Before that, he was the department's chief engineer for nine years. Altogether, he has been with MoDOT for more than 25 years. Kevin was selected as part of an intense, national search for a new MoDOT director that began in April.
Kevin is known to be innovative, results-oriented and a straight-shooter. He is nationally recognized for his innovative efforts to implement "Practical Design," a no-frills approach enabling MoDOT to satisfy customer needs while saving money to put toward more transportation improvements. Practical Design has saved Missouri taxpayers more than $1 billion and has been adopted in numerous other states.
As he moves forward in his new capacity, Kevin said his top two priorities are to make the best use of the resources MoDOT has available and to have a conversation with Missourians about our transportation needs and how we will fund improvements in the future.
So begins a new chapter in the MoDOT history book.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ready, Set, Snow!


So if your house is anything like ours, you've probably had your heater checked out for the winter, switched out all your summer clothes for the cold-weather clothes, and made sure your cars are ready for the snow. Just as we prepare our homes and vehicles for the cold weather, MoDOT employees are busy getting ready for the snow.

The department does lots of things to make sure we're ready for that first snowfall including stocking buildings with salt and beet juice, and ensuring plows and crews are ready by Nov. 1 for bad weather. New this year, we've added additional training on some of our equipment like the TowPLow.

For anyone out there who doesn't speak DOT language, the TowPLow is a really cool piece of equipment we've been using for a few years. It is a 26-foot plow created in Missouri, and now used in 10 other states and parts of Canada. It is designed to trail behind a standard plowing truck and can clear two traffic lanes at one time, the same as two standard snowplows, which saves a lot of time and resources. The department has 65 of these being used in all areas of the state on multi-lane highways, and it's just one of the tools we're using to make sure we keep roads safe for motorists while making the most of our resources.

Something else new for motorists this year is the updated Traveler Information Map on MoDOT's website that now includes weather radar imagery. Viewers can see what is happening and what is coming their way. New categories to better describe winter road conditions include the following: Closed, Covered, Partly Covered, Mostly Clear and Clear.

When bad weather hits, MoDOT will focus on getting roads drivable by treating the highest-traveled major roads and regionally significant roads first until they are mostly clear. All the remaining less-traveled roads will be plowed to allow for safe travel concentrating on hills, curves and intersections.

MoDOT has more than 3,000 employees and more than 1,600 pieces of equipment ready to fight the winter storms. Remember to give snowplows plenty of room to work, don't tailgate and try not to pass plows. We want everyone to get home safely. Buckle up, and remember, when driving in ice and snow, take it slow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Winning Team

MoDOT has recently been awarded some top honors. This week it was announced that the Interstate 64 reconstruction project in St. Louis has been selected as the 2010 America's Transportation Awards Grand Prize Winner by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It competed as one of forty-three projects.

In addition, the new diverging diamond interchange in Springfield, Mo., won the Francis B. Francois Award for Innovation. The award goes to a project that brings value to the public. In this case, the interchange allows traffic to move faster, reduces congestion, increases safety and saves money.

Also, Interim Director Kevin Keith received the President's Transportation Award for Administration. He was recognized for exemplary service and impacting transportation by implementing Practical Design, a cost-saving strategy that has now become our standard way of doing business.

This recognition shows we're working hard to provide quality transportation and use resources wisely. Congratulations to all of those who worked with these projects and were a part of bringing about practical, innovative solutions to achieve tremendous results.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Watch Out For Real Halloween Horrors

This time of year, I am wrapped up in the Halloween preparations like most people. The house is decorated and candy bought, but we’re still trying to find the pieces to complete costumes for a night of trick-or-treating fun. And while we all know the typical dangers to look out for on this night like tampered candy and ill-fitting costumes, many of us don’t think about some of the other really scary dangers like drunk drivers.

In fact, Halloween is a particularly deadly night due to impaired drivers. According to a study over a 20-year period by the National Highway Traffic Safety administration, four times the number of elementary and middle school-aged children were killed by a car or truck on Halloween when compared to all other evenings.

In 2008, 58 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night involved an impaired driver. In 2009 in Missouri, there were six people killed and 34 seriously injured in traffic crashes during the Halloween weekend. Of the six people killed, two involved an impaired driver and 80 percent were unbuckled.

So for everyone planning a Halloween party for more than the kids, keep in mind the following tips:
* Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
* Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.
* If you’re impaired, take a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
* If you suspect a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement.
* Always buckle up. It’s your best defense in a crash.
* Slow down and stay alert!

Besides looking out for impaired drivers, all motorists need to be aware that on a night such as Halloween, children dressed in costumes can run out onto streets and roadways. To avoid real-life Halloween horrors, remember the following if you are trick or treating with your kids:
* Walk on sidewalks if at all possible.
* Make sure cars can see you by wearing reflective strips and carry a flashlight.
* Don’t assume a vehicle is going to stop for you – the driver may not be paying attention or see you.
* Watch carefully for kids in the streets and stay close to your own little “monsters.”

For more information, visit www.saveMOlives.com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taking Impaired Drivers Off the Road

Foristell Police Department put their brand new DWI enforcement car to good use: by making a bust involving 70 pounds of marijuana.

Foristell Police Department was awarded the car by MoDOT's Division of Highway Safety for their 2009-2010 DWI enforcement efforts. They were randomly selected from 105 law enforcement agencies that participated in all five statewide DWI enforcement campaigns from August 2009 through July 2010.

Statewide DWI enforcement campaigns are held for St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July, the annual You Drink & Drive, You Lose. Campaign and during the December You Drink & Drive, You Lose. holiday campaign.

During the statewide campaigns from August 2009 through July 2010, law enforcement officers statewide issued 2,385 driving while intoxicated violations. In addition, citations and warnings were issued for 16,521 speeding violations, 3,770 safety belt violations and 309 child restraint violations.

In 2009, 280 people were killed, 1140 seriously injured and 3719 received minor injuries in crashes involving an impaired driver.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

KTU Constructors Completes 100th Bridge

For construction schedules, visit www.modot.org/safeandsound.
KTU Constructors has hit its first big milestone associated with the Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program -- the completion of its 100th bridge in less than a year.

KTU Constructors is MoDOT's design-build contractor. They won the contract in May 2009 to design and build 554 new bridges across the state. After spending several months getting their team in place, and starting the design process, KTU built four bridges last fall to test some of the construction techniques they expected would help them meet the challenge of rapidly building 554 new bridges in less than five years.

They started anew in March, and last Saturday reopened a bridge on Route M over Shankton Branch in Putnam County (near the Iowa-Missouri border) to hit the century mark. They've completed two more since then, and currently have 44 bridges under construction. In the next two weeks, KTU will begin work on 12 more projects to wrap up the 2010 construction season.

By the end of the year, weather permitting, KTU should have more than 150 new bridges completed.
But wait until 2011! Armed with lessons learned from this year; with the design process complete; and with a full inventory of precast beams awaiting delivery to job sites across the state, KTU plans to step on the gas. They have more than 300 bridges scheduled for 2011, with construction to begin in February.

The Safe & Sound program is well on its way to delivering 802 new and improved bridges to Missouri. Including the 'quick-start' bridges that MoDOT built last year outside of the design-build contract, Safe & Sound has repaired or replaced 265 bridges since April 2009. The pace has accelerated to where a new bridge is opening very two days.

To stay abreast of construction schedules, visit the Safe & Sound interactive map at www.modot.org/safeandsound

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dirty Trash Equals Clean Cash


My family and I recycle every piece of trash we can, and we pick up trash other people leave on the ground, so I understand the value of taking care of our environment. That’s why it’s so exciting when I hear of things MoDOT is doing to make a difference.

MoDOT Maintenance Superintendent Owen Hasson from our St. Louis District found a way to not only sweep up trash on St. Louis area streets and make them safer for motorists, but to help the environment and save the department tons of clean cash. Thanks to a dedicated sweeping crew and a new mobile screening unit, MoDOT has the potential to reduce its contribution to our urban landfills by up to 90 percent, while at the same time producing usable fill that can be used back on various road operations.

In March this year, crews started using the new screening unit to screen the street sweepings, producing a clean usable fill and reducing landfill debris and disposal costs. One cubic yard of sweepings weighs over one ton and thousands of cubic yards of sweepings are sent to landfills each year. Area landfill companies charge up to $45 a ton to dispose of sweeping debris. Hasson worked with the Department of Natural Resources to approve the usable fill.

So far this year, night sweeping crews have picked up 2,224 cubic yards of road debris. To haul this debris straight to the landfill would have cost more than $131,000. By filtering out the sweeping debris and reusing the cleaned sweepings, the disposal cost is reduced to under $20,000, saving $101,000 in landfill fees from these night crews alone.

Night crews represent only a fraction of the debris swept up in the St. Louis area. During the day, routine maintenance crews sweep up debris from the other major roads in the area and dump that debris at their buildings to be screened by the mobile screening unit.

Hopefully this process can be expanded in other areas to save even more money and reduce what goes to our landfill. Kudos to our St. Louis Area District and Owen Hasson for looking for creative ways to save money and help the environment!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Take a Break!

Aaaahhh, road trips. The open road, singing along to the radio, the thrill of freedom and adventure as you roll past the beautiful countryside.
OR...
Small children in the back screaming for the sippy cup they dropped, the dog whimpering for some attention, and a desperate need for some caffeine to finish up the 90 miles to Grandma's house, all while Barney and Elmo rock out to the latest counting song. 
Whatever YOUR road trips look like, we can help.
Missouri maintains 19 different rest areas and Welcome Centers across the state. Located on seven different Interstates, there are a variety of easy-to-access amenities. Visit our rest area map and click on any of the locations designated with stars to see what each offers.
You may even pick up a bit of Missouri history along the way. In Conway, stop to see the award-winning Route 66 displays. In Joplin, a mural made entirely from license plates is sure to impress. And in Eagleville, don't miss the 44-foot glass tile mosaic while you pick up a map, grab a snack and stretch your legs.
Your family ( and Fido) will thank you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Thumbs Up

A new Nielsen survey out this week shows that teens send or receive an average of 3,339 texts a month, up 8 percent from last year. While I like to think that my teen years weren’t THAT long ago, the fact that I never go over my texting plan of 250 texts per month shows me that I’m not nineteen anymore.

The problem with texting is that too many texts are being sent from behind the wheel. I can’t get in my car and drive anywhere without seeing at least one person texting while driving. Just last week I passed a car that had been weaving between lanes for a good five miles only to figure out why: she was texting.

In 2008, 4,457 teen drivers ages 15 to 19 were involved in fatal crashes, and 16 percent (692) were distracted at the time of the crash. While it can be hard to put away your phone and ignore that pesky little beep of a new text message, the risk it poses to you and others on the road is just not worth it.

This week is Teen Driver Safety Week. Talk to your teen about distracted driving. Remind them that it’s prohibited for drivers under 22 and that it carries a hefty fine: $200.

For more information about teen driving safety, visit saveMOlives.com.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Take a Tour!

Have you ever wondered what goes into building a major river bridge? Tours are now being offered for the New Mississippi River Bridge in St. Louis, where you can see up close how these impressive structures take shape.

Up to 25 people can participate in two tours each month. They are 1.5 hours long and take place on the final Friday of each month at 12:30 and 2 p.m.

"This is a good opportunity for people to see the ongoing activities on the river as part of building the main span for the new bridge," said Greg Horn, P.E., project director for the New Mississippi River Bridge. "We have to limit tours though to minimize the impact to our contractor team and to ongoing construction."

Reservations are required. For full details, call 314-453-1808 and schedule your tour!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Training Road Wise Teen Drivers


As the mom of two teenagers and a preteen, I cherish any quality time I can get with my kids in today’s fast-paced world. But I wasn’t so sure how special that time was going to be when I first learned some of the QT – 40 hours precisely - was going to be spent on the road with my just-learning-to-drive, 15-year-old son (a requirement of Missouri’s Graduated Driver Licensing Program).

When I really thought about it, though, I realized he really needed to practice his driving skills and our time together would give us teachable moments about the rules of the road. So, first it was off to the Capitol Mall parking lot in the family car. It was great! We had a lot of wide open space, yet he had to drive slowly and it gave us lots of opportunities to practice turns, stopping at stop signs, yielding to pedestrians, etc.

Eventually we hit the streets and went on longer drives outside the city limits. This is where my comfort zone was tested … often. I did my best to stay calm and helpful, but my knuckles got a little whiter and there were many times I tried to slam on brakes that just don’t exist on the passenger side floorboard, especially riding down the very narrow lanes on Rte. 179 to our church.

Most of the time, his dad or I practiced with him during the daytime. But, the GDL program requires that 10 of the 40 hours of practice driving occur at night. Good thing, too, because since he got licensed more than a year ago, he has done plenty of night driving; i.e., closing at work, late night arrivals after Friday night football games, etc.

Overall, our 40 hours of QT behind the wheel was a good experience. And somewhere along the way, I became MoDOT Mom because of my constant reminders to him to wear his seat belt. Many times, both then and now, I have shared tragic stories about teens who have died in traffic crashes because they weren’t wearing their seat belt. I can only hope and pray this will drive the message home.

Unfortunately for many teens, their lack of experience behind the wheel puts them at a higher risk for traffic crashes. Did you know that our teen drivers only make up 9 percent of licensed drivers, but they are involved in nearly 24 percent of traffic crashes? Or, were you aware that of the 104 teens killed in traffic crashes in 2009, 76 percent were not wearing their seat belt. We don’t want our son to become part of these statistics, so his dad and I gladly took on our responsibility of helping him become a good, safe driver.

Ahh, but that will soon start all over again. You see, our daughter begins driver’s training next year. This time around, we look forward to using MoDOT’s newly redesigned teen safe driving guide, Road Wise. The parent tips in the booklet will help guide her learning experience and we will use the log in the back to track her practice time. It will be a great tool to help teach her the importance of driving safely. But even greater will be the 40 hours of quality time we will have together.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

At the Top

Congratulations to those working with the kcICON Project in Kansas City, selected as the top road project and the fifth best bridge project of 2010 by Roads and Bridges magazine! Check the photos of the ribbon-cutting event last month. For a view from the top, don't miss the Shaky Cam video at http://bit.ly/am7fIU.




Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October's Missouri Miles

In this month's edition of Missouri Miles we take you to Tuscumbia, Mo., for a look at an amazing bridge demolition. We also take you behind the scenes of a chip sealing operation in Missouri.




In part two of Missouri Miles, we take you to the Show Me Safety Fair in St. Louis. The fair is complete with lessons about the dangers of drinking and driving and stresses the importance of wearing your seat belt. We also have a story on how MoDOT is going green in a very big way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Nostalgic Ride on the Rails


I haven’t ridden on a train in a very long time, so yesterday was an awesome experience. Instead of heading to the office as usual, I boarded the Columbine car, one of several Union Pacific heritage series cars being pulled by the Challenger 3985 – a 1940s-era steam engine. It is one of only two steam engines of its kind that still runs today.

Soon we were departing for Washington, Missouri. I was awed by the site of the fog still rolling off the Missouri River as we pulled away from Jefferson City. The thick, billowing steam from the engine continuously rolled over the top of the train, helping block the bright glare of the sun on this crisp fall morning. The sway on the tracks and the clacking of the car connectors wasn’t enough to distract from the beautiful view of bluffs and trees now beginning to sport their fall colors.

Not too long into the journey, we passed over the Osage River. This is where a second train bridge will soon be built with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds awarded to MoDOT. This project will help eliminate another bottleneck that impacts the speed and velocity of today’s modern trains.

Later, we passed over the Gasconade River where UP eliminated a bottleneck two years ago by completing a second track over the Gasconade River. Then just before we got to Washington, the train correctly stopped to let the westbound Amtrak train go by.

Throughout the journey, we must have been quite a sight to see for the many people who were stopped at crossings along the way and in the quaint towns nestled by the tracks.

Although the Challenger left us behind there to travel on to Illinois, it will return to Missouri this weekend as a part of Sedalia’s sesquicentennial celebration. What a fitting tribute to a city that was shaped by railroad history. What a great way I have discovered to see Missouri!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Couple Walks 91 Miles to Raise Funds for Fallen Workers Memorial

91 miles. That’s the distance Jim and Theo Feeney walked to raise funds for MoDOT’s Fallen Workers Memorial. The couple hiked nine hours a day for four days. At night, various friends put them up along the way. It’s the second year the Feeneys have made the journey.

Jim Feeney is a maintenance crew leader in MoDOT’s St. Louis district. He came up with the idea for the fund-raising effort two years ago.

"I told my wife I wanted to walk to Jefferson City to raise awareness of the memorial," Feeney said. "She said: ‘Can I go?’ "

This year, the Feeneys started their trek on the Katy Trail in Weldon Spring, Saturday, Oct. 2 and finished in Jefferson City, Tuesday, Oct. 5.

"Aside from my wife almost stepping on a couple of snakes, the most interesting part of the walk was the people," Jim said. "It’s humbling to find out how many good people are out there."

Since 1932, 130 MoDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty. Plans are under way to create a statewide memorial honoring these fallen men and women. The memorial will be funded by private donations. Feeney has personally raised over $3,000 toward the cause.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the memorial fund can make a check payable to State Highway & Transportation Employees Association of Missouri and mail it to: District 7 Highway Credit Union, Attn: Dave B. Taylor, 3901 East 32nd St., Suite A, Joplin, Mo., 64804



 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Smartie or Dum Dum: Which will you choose?

Will your school be a Dum Dum or a Smartie?

Using Dum Dum pops and Smartie candies is one way students enforce seat belt use in Battle of the Belt. Students wearing their seat belts receive Smarties to reinforce this lifesaving decision while students failing to buckle up get a Dum Dum.

According to the results of the latest statewide seat belt survey, teen seat belt use is up to 66 percent from 61 percent. Unfortunately, that means 34 percent still aren’t wearing their seat belts and are at a greater risk to get injured or killed in traffic crashes.

Battle of the Belt 2010 kicks off today. Missouri high schools will be competing to increase seat belt use among students.

More than 200 Missouri high schools signed up for this year’s competition, an 38 percent increase in participation from last year.

Battle of the Belt consists of two surprise seat belt checks at each high school to measure student seat belt usage before and after an educational campaign on the importance of safety belt use.

Statewide awards are given to schools who reach 91 percent or higher seat belt usage. Awards are also given at the regional level to schools with the highest overall seat belt usage and most improved seat belt usage.

Schools also have the opportunity to submit a 30-second video spot aimed at encouraging their peers to buckle up.

Last year’s winning PSA came from Washington High School and can be viewed below. It featured the slogan “Everyone’s a Winner when you Buckle Up.”

Teen seat belt usage increased by 5 percent in 2010. Sixty-six percent of Missouri teens buckle up. Teen seat belt usage remains below Missouri statewide usage (76 percent) and national seat belt usage (85 percent).

Find out more about Battle of the Belt here.

video

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Two Feet, Two Wheels: All it Takes To Cross the Wide Missouri in KC






Pedestrians and bicyclists in the Kansas City area now can cross the wide Missouri River, thanks to years of cooperation, collaboration and the timely arrival of funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


Last spring, the Heart of America Bridge began the transition from a motorist-only bridge to a multi-use Missouri river crossing with paths for bikes and pedestrians. That project opened to a crowd of bike, walking and running enthusiasts at 2 p.m. on Oct. 1.
The new accommodations include a barrier-separated bike and pedestrian path on Route 9 extending from 10th Avenue in North Kansas City to 3rd Street in Kansas City.
MoDOT retrofit the 8-year old bridge as part of already-scheduled bridge work. The department used existing pedestrian access to provide more opportunities for both foot and pedal traffic. Pedestrians need protection from vehicles that cross the bridge at high rates of speed. Casual cyclists are not always comfortable riding in motorist lanes that travel at a higher speed.  Advanced cyclists will continue to ride in lanes following the rules of the road, but with greater exposure to traffic.
In tandem with this project, the Chouteau Bridge is also under rehabilitation.
When complete by 2010, the Chouteau and Heart of America bridges will help Kansas City achieve its goal of a phased network of 600 miles of on-street bicycle routes within the city.
For more information, check out the project page on www.modot.org/kc under "Major Projects."

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Like to Move It, Move It

I was a lazy kid. Despite living a stone’s throw away from my school growing up, I can count on one hand the number of times I walked to school. Looking back at grade school pictures, I probably could have used the exercise.

But when I was growing up, I don’t remember anyone encouraging walking to school the way we do now. The entire month of October is Walk to School Month, October 4-8 is Walk to School Week and October 6 is International Walk to School Day.

Kids need 30-60 minutes of exercise each day. Walking or cycling to and from school is an ideal way to get some of that activity. Roughly 10% of children nationwide walk to school regularly. Even among those kids living within a mile of their school, only 25% are regular walkers.

So why not use this month as an opportunity to stretch your legs and get moving. Encourage others to do the same. Organize a Walk to School Day or week this month. You might find that your kids enjoy it so much they’ll want to do it every day (weather permitting of course – we do live in Missouri).

MoDOT oversees the Safe Routes to School program which provides safer biking and walking accommodations for children in grades K-8. The program is designed to provide public awareness and outreach efforts and improve biking and walking conditions around schools.

To find out more about Safe Routes to School, visit http://www.modot.org/safety/SafeRoutestoSchool.htm.

To find out what events are planned in Missouri or to plan one of your own, visit http://www.walktoschool.org/who/seestate.cfm?st=MO.